Vice President Kamala Harris disembarks Air Force Two in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Sunday, June 6, during her first foreign trip in office.
Vice President Kamala Harris is in Guatemala to meet with President Alejandro Giammattei, and during their joint press conference Monday, the vice president said anyone thinking about making the unsafe trek to the US-Mexico border should not come.
Kamala Harris did not receive a warm welcome in Guatemala after the country's president blamed the Biden administration for the border crisis.
Speaking at a news conference with Giammattei, Harris delivered a blunt message to anyone thinking of making the unsafe journey north: "Do not come". "What fight against corruption is she talking about?" "The president and I discussed that fundamentally, most people do not want to leave home, they don't want to leave the place where the language they know is spoken".
"I will continue to be focused on that kind of work as opposed to grand gestures", she said. She said she was working on the ground in Guatemala.
But she also took flak from fellow Democrats like U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who said on Twitter she was disappointed by Harris's message to migrants. She confirmed that the United States would supply half a million COVID-19 doses to Guatemala. "We can't help set someone's house on fire and then blame them for fleeing". "It erodes the confidence the people have in their government and its leaders".
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More recently, the U.S. -financed, U.N. Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala helped bring down democratically elected conservative President Otto Perez Molina, a former general, who resigned after massive protests triggered by an investigation into corruption in his government.
The Biden administration on Monday also unveiled details of another task force of prosecutors to combat human smuggling in Central America and Mexico.
In addition to new anti-corruption and anti-smuggling task forces, which will be led by the U.S. Department of Justice with support from the State Department, Harris announced efforts to address Guatemala's lack of stable economic opportunities - one of the top drivers of migration - that will include investments in affordable housing, agribusinesses and a Young Women's Empowerment Initiative that will focus in particular on closing significant gender gaps faced by young, primarily Indigenous women.
"We must root out corruption wherever it exists", she said.
In Guatemala, the vice president will also meet with Guatemalan community leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs as well as greet and thank USA embassy staff.